Ukrainian political life is unpredictable and inconsistent. Its processes are often ideologically incoherent. The only exception is the market relations around party organizations. They became so obvious that it would be irresponsible to leave the political evolution in a degrading condition. It is especially relevant in the settings when political parties have the monopoly for nominating candidates to different levels of authorities. Political projects come and go, the same as their formal leaders, whereas the USREOU code (Unified State Register of Enterprises and Organizations of Ukraine) had rather been hidden than demonstrating the actual evolution of a political group.

Think of a little known “United Ukraine” party – today, it is the Shariy Party. Another case, when there was a political force with an overly complicated name “Party of the Community of United Multiapartment House Owners, Construction Workers, and Construction Organizations.” Several months later, it became the second largest faction in Rivne City Council – “Rivne Together.” 

That is why we analyzed all political forces for you. We looked at them through a lens of recent election campaigns and highlighted the most extraordinary stories from the “party bazaar.”

Per aspera ad astra

To create a political party in Ukraine, you need to organize a founding convention and make a decision thereon supported by signatures of at least 10,000 citizens entitled to vote. Voter signatures shall be collected at least in two thirds of regions of Ukraine, in the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol, and AR Crimea. These are the requirements of the Law "On Political Parties in Ukraine."

The law also requires from parties to create and register regional, city, and district organizations in most Ukraine’s Oblasts, within the following six months.

Party registration process is complicated but we still have about 370 parties in Ukraine. Why couldn’t we refer to more specific data? Because no list openly available (such as the  Unified State Register of Legal Entities  or Register of Public Formations) or any other lists we analyzed are exhaustive. The “digital government” has a chaos in the registers which is rather conducive for entrepreneurial ideas about open trade in political non-profit organizations which value usually grows before the elections.

Last time the official portal of the Ministry of Justice  updated the available party list was on January, 1, 2021. For example, it does not contain the USREOU code of the “Servant of the People;” and it lacks complete data on certain parties (some of them have already terminated their activities, e.g.  “Olimp” PP). 

Although the Minister of Justice, Denys Maluska, announced about the initiated process to cancel the registration for 48 parties back in February, since that time, the number of political forces has not decreased (some court proceedings are still open, certain parties nominated their candidate for the by-elections of people’s deputies in constituency 87, thus managing to save their registration). 

Furthermore, new political parties keep being registered in Ukraine. Thus, since the start of 2021, 8 political forces have been registered: “Ukrayintsi” [lit. – The Ukrainians], “Dobrobut” [lit. – The Welfare], “Dosvid” [lit. – The Experience], “Syla Yednosti” [lit. – Power of Unity], “Popular Initiative”, “Mova” [lit. – The Language], “Harant” [lit. – The Guarantor], and “Nashe Misto” [lit. – Our City].  In 2020, 17 new parties were established, while in 2019, there were as little as three. However, the richest year in terms of registration for Ukrainian party building was 2015 – it listed 79 new political forces.

If we compare to other democratic European countries,  Italy has 58 political forces, Lithuania – 77, Poland – 87,  Germany – 116, United Kingdom – 379, France – 680, but Spain has almost 5,000 (!) political associations. 

Certainly, every country has its specificity, while the UK and Spain are federative states. However, all of them, us and them, and dozens of other countries, share one thing – not all the parties registered on paper are actually real, rather than nominal political projects. On the other hand, often, even standing in elections may be a necessitated step, in terms of various legal requirements. Let alone, the dramatic change of names or beneficiaries of political forces and the "exit from the sleep mode" shortly before the electoral race.

How Parties Ran For Elections

At the 2020 local elections, of the 350 registered parties of the time, candidates were nominated to councils of different levels by 144 (!) Ukrainian political forces (or 41%); 113 (78.5% of all participants) won at least 1 mandate. In other words, ab. 30% of political organizations managed to get the minimum possible support from voters.

In the recent local elections, many parties were regional projects. 112 (77.8%) of political forces nominated their candidates only in 5 or less Ukraine’s Oblasts: 73 parties (50.7%) – in one Oblast only, 18 (12.5%) – in two Oblasts, 10 (6.9%) – in three Oblasts, 5 (3.5%) – in four Oblasts, and 6 (4.2%) – in five Oblasts.

As little as five political forces nominated their candidates in all Ukraine’s regions: “Batkivshchyna” AU, “For the Future,” “European Solidarity,” “Servant of the People,” and “Nash Kray.” The list does not even include the two parliamentary parties of “Holos” and the “Opposition Platform – For Life.” 

According to our estimates, about 40 political forces running for local elections have probably changed their end beneficiaries before the local elections: 70% of them in 2020, others – in 2019. Later, the analysis of state registers helped us establish that they have certain typical features: 

  1. Registration of candidates in few communities (usually, within one district or Oblast, with few exceptions).
  2. Personified party name (“Symchyshyn Team,” Ihor Kolykhaev Party “WE SHALL LIVE HERE!," “Mykhaylishyn Team,” "Svitlychna Bloc TOGETHER!" etc.).
  3. Deliberate geographical link (“Mykolayiv People,” “Native Transcarpathia,” “Rivne Together,” “Dnipro Team,” etc.). 

Due to the partization of elections, certain political forces changed their names and leaders shortly before the 2020 local elections. The metamorphosis and rebirth of certain projects call for a careful attention.

Reincarnation, Ukrainian Way

Before the local elections, party officials took under their control the unknown legal entities, renamed them, and presented them to voters under a new name. This category includes over 25% of all parties. The full list has been  collected in this Table. However, the most interesting reincarnations deserve a more detailed coverage.

USREOU

Date of establishment

New name

Date of renaming

Previous name

39644910

2015-02-17

Shariy Party

2019-06-06

United Ukraine

33406897

2005-02-25

Bereza Eco Party

2020-08-10

People’s Ecological Party

33298125

2005-03-25

Vinnytsia Citizens Party

2020-01-01

European Platform

40142729

2015-11-26

Party of Your City

2019-08-12

Patriots of Volhynia

21708542

1999-05-20

Order. Responsibility. Justice.

2019-11-10

New Time

38010759

2011-12-06

The Bee

2019-04-01

Popular Parliament

21707761

1999-12-13

Serhiy Sukhanov Party

2020-08-10

Family

40152983

2015-12-02

“Unification” Party of Volodymyr Buriak

2020-01-16

Unification

39550414

2014-12-16

Proposition

2020-04-02

New European Ukraine

00044345

1993-05-14

Accent

2020-09-09

Viche [lit. – People’s Convention]

39550770

2014-12-16

Ihor Kolykhaev Party "We Shall Live Here!"

2020-02-13

“Rebirth of Ukraine” AU

40069890

2015-10-16

Civic Movement "Critically-Minded"

2019-03-11

Ukrainian Patriotic Party

39877693

2015-07-06

Palchevskyi Victory

2020-06-27

Ukraine Tomorrow

40255609

2016-02-04

Perspective of the City

2020-01-01

Popular Unity

41208188

2017-03-13

United Alternative

2020-05-23

Union of city and village

40269229

2016-02-10

Dnipro Team

2020-07-30

Public Position

36088708

2008-08-06

For the Future

2019-10-16

Ukraine of the Future

40356468

2016-03-21

Rivne Together

2020-07-17

Party of the community of united owners of multi-apartment buildings, construction workers, and construction organizations

43775098

2020-08-27

Mykhaylishyn Team

2020-09-21

Dobrobut [lit. - Welfare]

43729366

2020-07-27

Ecological Alternative

2020-08-07

Dosvid [lit. - Experience]

40115365

2015-11-11

Symchyshyn Team

2020-06-12

Party of "Peace and Flourishing"

39928255

2015-08-03

United Community

2019-08-26

Patriotic Movement

39938258

2015-08-06

Svitlychna Bloc "Together!"

2020-04-23

United Force

37387024

2010-11-16

Serhiy Minko Team

2020-08-04

Kozak People’s Party

35658453

2008-01-24

Bila Tserkva Together

2018-05-31

Right Will of Ukraine

42622242

2018-11-12

Native Transcarpathia

2020-02-11

Kyiv Community

38217847

2012-05-28

Eduard Gurvitz Bloc

2020-09-10

Unity and Development

39232185

2014-05-29

“Popular Rule” Levchenko Team

2020-03-20

Sirius

21708140

1999-09-24

Andriy Baloha Team

2020-07-02

United Center

39358268

2014-08-20

"Ukrainian Perspective" Vilkul Bloc

2020-06-25

Perspective

39341474

2014-08-07

Ihor Sapozhko Team "Unity"

2020-08-05

Strong Country

38909954

2013-09-24

Mykolayiv People

2020-09-08

Bloc of Hennadiy Chekita "For Justice"

39464116

2014-10-29

Bloc of Vadym Boychenko

2020-02-24

Communal Spirit

40419357

2016-04-12

Kernes Bloc – Successful Kharkiv!

2019-10-17

Unitary European Ukraine

33668763

2005-07-20

People’s Program of Vadym Chornyi

2019-04-22

Agrarian Ukraine Village Bloc

39440362

2014-10-14

Serhiy Rudyk Team. Time for Change!

2020-08-07

Time for Change

39389563

2014-09-10

Party of Common People of Serhiy Kaplin

2020-09-18

Andriy Matkovskyi Team

43684802

2020-06-30

Maksym Yefimov Team "Our Kramatorsk"

2020-08-04

Native Kyiv Land

43648015

2020-06-04

VARTA [lit. – The Guard]

2020-07-10

Together

40212900

2016-01-11

For Odesa Land

2019-11-23

Movement for Ukraine

Certain “Your Ukraine” (USREOU – 37379815), with the central office in Donetsk, on September, 13, 2019 became a party “Patriots of Volhynia,” with an office in Lutsk. Under the brand of “Patriots of Volhynia,” the party nominated Oleh Holtianskyi as a candidate at by-elections on March, 15, 2020, to the Verkhovna Rada, in constituency 179 (Kharkiv Oblast). The candidate’s  Program  where he promoted the “creation of a combined system of agriculture, with farming businesses and Soviet council-based farms” and the “external expansion policy” attracted the support of as many as 20 voters (0.05%). 

The party must have not been much interested in the results. In fact, it is highly likely that the nomination was rather technical, to keep the status of a legal entity and not be liquidated, until a more attractive market offer. The Law empowered the Ministry of Justice to initiate a party’s liquidation in the court in case it had not participated in presidential or parliamentary elections for 10 years.

It is interesting that the first, or rather original, “version” of the “Patriots of Volhynia” party (with an entirely different USREOU code – 40142729) was renamed  a month before (August, 2019) into the “Party of Your City.” One year later, it managed  to get 5 mandates (13%) at the 2020 local elections to Uzhgorod City Council (Transcarpathia Oblast). 

In the same council, at the same elections, 6 mandates (almost 16%) were won by the “Native Transcarpathia” party. In fact, still in February, 2020, it was called “Kyiv Community” (USREOU code – 42622242). However, according to the NACP report, they have not exercised any activities. What a piece of political logistics! Mykola Tyshchenko might have got inspired by the case, as he “relocated” from Kyiv to be a leader of the party organization of the “Servant of the People” in Transcarpathia.

However, it seems like Kyiv region, as a true heart of Ukraine, “caught the fancy” of party officials from the country’s west, and from the east. Thus, the “Native Kyiv Land” party (USREOU code – 43684802) was renamed in August, 2020, into the Team of Maksym Yefimov “Our Kramatorsk” (NB: Maksym Yefimov is a majoritarian deputy of Verkhovna Rada for constituency 48, with the center in Kramatorsk). Two months later, under an updated brand, the party ranked second (28.57%) at elections to the Kramatorsk City Council, and 5th (9.26%) to the Kramatorsk district council.

It looks like the party can also be rented for use short-term. In September, 2020, “Bloc of Hennadiy Chekita “For Justice” changed their name to the party “Mykolayiv People” (USREOU code – 38909954). They nominated candidates to the Mykolayiv regional, district, and city councils. Political race was not highly successful for the party – 5 mandates to Mykolayiv district council. However, we noticed another thing – that the political force has not changed the leader, despite the critical rebranding. Hennadiy Chekita stayed (NB: people’s deputy of the 8th convocation under constituency 134 – Odesa city). The office of the political force also  stayed in Odesa.

Goal – Seats in Commissions

Because regular local elections in Ukraine take place once in five years, and the number of participants in the parliamentary campaigns is typically lower, the issue of registering hundreds of “conserved” parties could be taken off the table. However, the conclusion is premature.

Political officials can hand the parties over to other beneficiaries, and also nominate technical candidates (in the majoritarian constituencies, first of all), or they may abuse the right to run for elections and provide their seats in election commissions to the third parties, for financial benefits.

According to our estimates, since 2012, 6 political parties have been systemically intensifying their activity on the stages of establishing and distributing seats in district election commissions. They are “Green Planet,” Liberal Party of Ukraine, “Unified Family,” “New Politics,” Green Party of Ukraine, and the “Ukraine of the Future.”

On the other hand, the number of political forces that have been engaged in any such activities at least once, since 2012, is about 28 parties. Even without nominating any candidates (or with nomination in several majoritarian constituencies), they received a huge number of seats in DECs and TECs, often during several election campaigns in a row.

The highest number of members at regular and extraordinary parliamentary elections in 2012, 2014, and in 2019, was gained by the “Green Planet” party (USREOU – 33447027) – 466 (at the 2012 elections, the party received 0.34% of votes, at the 2014 elections – 0.23%, at the 2019 elections, they did not nominate any candidates). 

Liberal Party of Ukraine (00044351) – 446 members (at elections in 2012 and in 2014, the party finished last – 0.05% and 0.07% of votes, respectively; at the 2019 elections, they did not nominate any candidates).

The all-Ukrainian union “United Family” had a big number of district commission members (21710562) – 317 seats. The political force had election commission members in 2012 and in 2019. However, they only nominated candidates at the 2014 parliamentary elections, and under a different brand. During those elections, it was named “Ukraine is the United Country.

At the parliamentary elections in 2014 and in 2019, the “Ukraine of the Future” party (36088708)  had 233 commission members at their disposal. Nevertheless, the political force was not highly successful in the elections. It all changed in October, 2019, when the party changed their name to “For the Future.” Six months later, the party leader was a people’s deputy Ihor Palytsia. After that, the political force became publicly known and  won the fifth biggest number of deputy mandates  at local elections. 

Other parties (presently represented in the parliament) used to take the same approach.

Parliamentary Chameleons

Among the five factions in the Ukrainian parliament of the 9th convocation, four political forces changed their names and beneficiaries.

“Servant of the People” used to be called the “Party of Decisive Change” from April, 2016, till December, 2017. Although the official website says that the party was headed by Ivan Bakanov, the information is not quite correct. In fact, during the first 18 months, the party was led by Yurdyha Yevhen Oleksandrovych.

“Opposition Platform – For Life” was founded in December, 1999, under the name of the All-Ukrainian Union “Center.” It stood for the 2012 elections where they nominated as many as 1 candidate under a majoritarian constituency No 2 (Simferopol). In April, 2017, the party changed the name to the “For Life” party, and they also replaced a leader, Prymak Mykola Anatoliyovych, with Vadym Rabinovych. In February, 2019, the party received its present name. In June, 2019, a new leader came -  Yuriy Boyko.

The “European Solidarity” party experienced even more transformations. It was founded in May, 2000, as the “All-Ukrainian Party of Peace and Unity.” In 2013, it changed the name to the “National Alliance for Freedom and Ukrainian Patriotism “NASTUP” [lit. – ATTACK]. After that, in 2014, Petro Poroshenko’s team took this political force under their control and renamed it into the “Solidarity” AU. In fact, the registration certificate of the authentic “Solidarity” was cancelled by court decision for not participating in elections during 10 years. Later, the widely known brands came to life: Bloc of Petro Poroshenko – BPP “Solidarity” – European Solidarity.

The fourth renamed parliamentary party turned out to be a much simpler case. Thus, the “Holos” received its present name in May, 2019. Before that, the party had been known as the “Platform of Initiatives” (registered back in February, 2015) but it has bever been politically active.

Therefore, the only parliamentary force that has not undergone any transformations was the “Batkivshchyna” All-Ukrainian Union founded back in September, 1999.

Political Den

Therefore, as we can see, there is plenty of parties in the Ukrainian horizon. They can hardly be analyzed in one coverage; their programs can’t be read through. After all, does it make any sense? In fact, many of them are in deep hibernation, like a bear in his den in wintertime. However, it looks like in order to make it until spring (or until elections, in our case), parties are trying to find the same burrow to stay together (party office). 

It is what the following parties did: “Party of Spirituality and Patriotism” and the “All-Ukrainian Kozak Party” (11 Mala Zhytomyrska Street, office 5-A, Kyiv); party “Economic Revival of Ukraine” and “New Ukraine” (3 Mazepy Street, office 197, Kyiv); Movement of Valentyn Nalyvaychenko “Justice” and the party “Ukrainians Together” (143-А Saksahanskoho Street, Kyiv). Even the office of the “Opposition Bloc” in Kyiv, at 6/14 Voloska Street, has the “Voice of the People” party laying low.

Will the political winter come to an end for these hundreds of other parties? Will they ever stand for elections? What name will they use, and at whose expense? Unfortunately, we have no knowledge of that. 

It is possible that another little-known party “United Ukraine” will transform into the “Shariy Party,” “Ukraine Tomorrow” – into “Palchevskyi Victory,” and the “Unitary European Ukraine” – into the “Kernes Bloc – Successful Kharkiv.” And the voters will vote.

However, does it make much sense to vote for the party when the members did not even manage to register it on their own?

 

The publication was made possible due to support of American people provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Any opinions and statements expressed in this publication may not coincide with the official position of USAID and US Government.